London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London


A Sephardi Celebration by candle light at Bevis Marks Synagogue in London EC3 - December 2004

Jewish spirituality is alive and well on the Eastern fringes of the City of London!

Singers on the Bimah at Bevis MarksA wonderful evening of choral music was presented by the choir of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London on the evening of 4 December 2004. As an Ashkenazi Jew many of the tunes were unfamiliar  (with some interesting exceptions!) but the message was not. I’ve always known Adon Olam can be sung to just about any tune (my favourite is to William Blake’s Jerusalem – try it, it works), but hearing it sung on the Bimah by a ‘barbershop’ quintet (not quartet) to the tune of  'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'Way down upon the Swanee River' was something else!   The highlight for me was 'El Norah' – sung in front of the Ark by the wonderful choir.  The traditions of the Spanish and Portuguese (Sephardi) Jews go back to before the tragic expulsion from Spain in 1492.  This concert was a living link to those days.  Pease enjoy my attempt to convey the magic of the evening through my photos.  

Click the photos to enlarge

Entering Bevis Marks

Candelabra and ceiling view from the Ladies' Gallery

The synagogue fills as the audience arrive

The ark is candelit waiting for the choir to take their place in front of it

The Choir of The Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London

The choir take a bow

Sephardi faces in the audience

Sephardi melodies played on cello and piano from the Bimah (reading desk)

Amazing Barbershop 'quintet' with their unique version of 'Adon Olam' (Eternal God) sung to the tune of 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'Swanee River'

Another view of the Bevis Marks 'Barbershop Quintet'

The audience show their appreciation

A view of the downstairs of Bevis Marks' sanctuary

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